Cartoon of man and horse jumping over horse jump

Showjumping Essentials: Tips for Riding Your First Jumping Course

Welcome to our guide on showjumping tips! If you're eager to start your showjumping journey or looking to improve your current skills, you've come to the right place. Showjumping combines the speed and excitement of horse riding with the precision of jumping courses, making it a thrilling and challenging sport. In this section, we will cover some essential tips to help you ride your first jumping course with confidence.

Before we dive into the tips, let's take a moment to appreciate the beauty of showjumping. Here's an image to inspire you: 

Rider and Horse Jumping over obstacle

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding showjumping techniques is crucial for success
  • Practice, practice, practice - repetition is key
  • Building a strong foundation will help you progress faster
  • Effective showjumping exercises can target specific skills
  • Mastering showjumping basics is essential before tackling advanced courses

Understanding Showjumping Techniques

Before we can even consider tackling a jumping course, it's essential to understand the key techniques used in showjumping. These techniques are critical to improving your showjumping performance. In this section, we'll explore fundamental techniques that will support your jumping technique.

Proper Approach

Getting to a jump with the correctly timed approach can be a challenging task for many riders. Approaching too slowly gives the horse a chance to back away from the obstacle, while moving too quickly can result in a rushed and flat jump. Ideally, you should approach the jump at a good canter, allowing sufficient time to prepare the horse for the jump, getting him in the correct rhythm to take-off.


The distance between jumps, or striding, is a crucial part of showjumping. The ability to find the proper stride distance for different types of jumps out on a course makes all the difference. In general, the length of stride will depend on the horse's size, pace, and take-off point. Right striding is vital to make the horse capable of taking-off from the right point and making for a seamless transition from one jump to another.


The rider's position in showjumping is of utmost importance. The ideal position varies depending on the situation, but the rider should keep a light seat when riding between jumps and move into the two-point position while the horse jumps. Keeping your heels down and the leg in a secure position will help stabilize the rider's balance on landing. The hand's position is also crucial; they should be stable yet soft, providing support and control on the horse's mouth.

Tip: Always sit up straight and don't lean forward through the jump.

By focusing on these showjumping techniques, you can take significant steps towards improving your overall jumping performance. Mastering these techniques will help you gain confidence and feel more comfortable navigating courses.

Showjumping Training Tips for Beginners

If you're just starting with showjumping, don't worry – we've got you covered. Here are our top showjumping training tips for beginners:

  1. Start with the basics: Build a solid foundation by practising your flatwork and developing a strong position in the saddle. Work on your transitions, especially getting into and out of canter, as this is crucial for showjumping.
  2. Practice gridwork: Incorporate gridwork into your training routine to help develop rhythm and accuracy. Start with simple grids and work your way up to more complex ones as you progress.
  3. Work on striding: Understanding correct striding is essential for your success in showjumping. Practice counting strides between poles and over small jumps to develop your sense of rhythm and improve your timing.
  4. Take regular lessons: Regular lessons with a reputable instructor will help you progress faster and more efficiently. They will provide valuable feedback and guidance, and help you overcome any obstacles you encounter.
  5. Observe experienced riders: Watch experienced riders at competitions or during their practice sessions. Take note of their techniques, positions, and approaches, and consider incorporating what you learn into your own training.

Example Exercise: Trotting Poles

An excellent exercise for improving rhythm, balance, and control is trotting poles. Set up three to five poles at an equal distance apart and practice trotting through them in a straight line. Start with a single pole and gradually increase the number as you progress. Make sure to keep a steady rhythm and maintain a balanced position.

Example Exercise: Canter Poles

Canter poles help develop stride length and improve your timing. Set up poles at the correct striding distance and canter through them in a straight line. Practice this exercise with single poles and eventually progress to trotting poles. Focus on maintaining a balanced position and keeping your horse in a steady rhythm.

By incorporating these showjumping training tips for beginners into your routine, you'll begin to feel more confident and comfortable with the sport. Remember that practice makes perfect, and progress takes time. Keep trying, stay positive, and don't give up!

Effective Showjumping Exercises

When it comes to showjumping, practice makes perfect. By incorporating a variety of effective showjumping exercises into your training routine, you can target specific skills and improve your overall performance.

One effective showjumping exercise is the gridwork exercise. In this exercise, a series of jumps are set up in a straight line with specific distances between them to develop your horse's rhythm, control, and balance. Another great exercise is the "circle of death," where jumps are placed in a circular formation to promote agility and precision.

"Effective jumping exercises are all about targeting specific skills and creating a well-rounded approach to your showjumping training."

Sample Gridwork Exercise:

Set up three jumps in a straight line, approximately 20-25 feet apart, with a placement of your choice. Use ground poles to create distance markers between each jump, making sure they are at the appropriate distance for your horse's stride. Begin by trotting through the grid, focusing on maintaining a consistent rhythm and allowing your horse to find their own distances without interference. Then, progress to cantering through the exercise, gradually increasing the height and complexity of the jumps as your horse becomes more confident and skilled.

Sample "Circle of Death" Exercise:

Jump Placement Description
Jump 1 Set up on the right side of your circle
Jump 2 Set up at the top of the circle, opposite of Jump 1
Jump 3 Set up on the left side of your circle
Jump 4 Set up at the bottom of the circle, opposite of Jump 3

Begin by cantering around the circle and jumping each jump in turn, focusing on maintaining a consistent pace and making tight turns between each jump. Gradually increase the height and complexity of the jumps to challenge your horse's agility and precision.

Remember, incorporating showjumping exercises into your training routine is key to improving your showjumping skills. Try incorporating these exercises into your routine and see how it improves your performance.

Developing Showjumping Skills

Mastering showjumping requires a combination of technical skills and finesse. Developing these skills takes time, patience, and practice; however, the payoff is worth it. The following are some of the key skills that are essential for mastering jumping courses:


Balance is essential for any athlete, and showjumping is no exception. Having balance in the saddle is crucial for maintaining your position while jumping and ensuring that your horse can perform its best. Riders must learn to move with their horse and maintain a consistent center of gravity throughout the course.


Timing is critical in showjumping. Proper timing keeps you and your horse in sync and allows for a seamless transition between jumps. With practice, riders can learn to anticipate the horse's movements and adjust their riding accordingly, leading to a more relaxed and smooth ride.


Adjustability refers to the rider's ability to make changes in the horse's stride and speed. Being able to make these adjustments on the fly is necessary when dealing with different jump types and courses. Riders must learn to be flexible in their riding and have good communication with their horse.


Accuracy is crucial when it comes to showjumping. Riders must navigate the course precisely, making sure that their horse lands and takes off from each jump at the right distance and angle. Achieving this requires excellent spatial awareness, which riders can develop through practice and repetition.

By developing these showjumping skills, you'll be well on your way to mastering this exciting equestrian sport. Remember to stay patient, practice regularly, and always strive for improvement.

Mastering Showjumping Basics

When starting your showjumping journey, it's crucial to master the basics. By doing so, you'll ensure success in your riding career. In this section, we will cover important showjumping basics that you need to know.

Understanding Different Types of Jumps

There are several types of jumps that you'll encounter in a showjumping course. These include verticals, oxers, combinations, and more. It's important to know the key features of each type of jump to successfully navigate the course.


Type of Jump Description
Vertical A single fence made up of poles placed one above the other
Oxer Two or more fences placed side by side, with two poles usually placed on top of each other to create a greater width than height
Combination A sequence of jumps that require a specific number of strides between them

Course Navigation

Knowing how to navigate a course is key to success in showjumping. Courses are typically made up of a series of jumps that are arranged in a specific order. Knowing the order allows you to plan your approach in advance, helping you to maintain rhythm and control throughout the course.

"By memorizing the course beforehand and walking it beforehand, you'll be a step ahead in understanding the course navigation", we advise.

Competition Etiquette

Following competition etiquette is essential to ensure that events run smoothly and safely for both riders and horses. This includes arriving on time, respecting fellow riders, and following the rules and regulations of the event.

By mastering these showjumping basics, you'll be well-equipped to tackle any jumping course. Remember to always practice regularly and seek guidance from experienced riders. Happy showjumping!

Showjumping Skills: Final Thoughts

As we conclude our article, we hope that our tips on showjumping skills, techniques, exercises, and basics have been informative and helpful in your journey to becoming a better showjumper. Remember, showjumping is a sport that requires both physical and mental preparation.

By focusing on developing your showjumping skills, techniques, and exercises, you'll be able to navigate any jumping course with ease and confidence. Remember to focus on building your foundation through training tips tailored for beginners, and gradually progress to more advanced techniques and exercises as you improve.

Always seek guidance from experienced riders or a professional coach who can provide personalized advice and support. It's also essential to practice regularly, as consistency is key to mastering any sport.

Lastly, keep in mind that showjumping is a sport that requires patience, discipline, and passion. It's important to enjoy the journey and have fun along the way, even when things don't go as planned. With dedication, hard work, and a positive attitude, you can achieve your showjumping goals.

We hope that our show jumping advice has given you the inspiration and motivation you need to keep pushing forward in your showjumping journey. Happy jumping!


What are some showjumping tips for beginners?

For beginners, it's important to focus on building a strong foundation. Start by practicing your position and balance, and gradually introduce small jumps. Remember to maintain a steady rhythm and always look ahead to the next jump. Seeking guidance from an experienced coach can also greatly help beginners in their showjumping journey.

How can I improve my showjumping skills?

Improving showjumping skills requires consistent practice and a focus on key techniques. Work on your horse's adjustability, and practice riding various striding. Pay attention to your position and balance, and learn to adjust your horse's stride to achieve the best approach to each jump. Regularly incorporating showjumping exercises and seeking feedback from a knowledgeable trainer can also boost your improvement.

What are some effective showjumping exercises?

Showjumping exercises can help improve various aspects of your riding. One effective exercise is gridwork, which involves placing a series of jumps in a line to work on stride adjustability. Another exercise is the figure-eight, which helps improve bending and control. Regularly practicing related distances and combinations will also sharpen your skills. Remember to start with smaller jumps and gradually increase the difficulty level as you progress.

What are the essential showjumping skills I need to master?

Showjumping requires a combination of skills. Balance and timing are crucial to maintain control and harmony with your horse. Adjustability allows you to adapt to different jump heights and distances. Accuracy is important for hitting the center of the jump, and rhythm helps maintain a consistent pace. Developing these skills through regular practice and seeking guidance from experienced riders will enhance your showjumping performance.

What are the basics of showjumping that I should know?

Showjumping basics include understanding the different types of jumps, such as verticals, oxers, and combinations. You should also learn how to navigate a course, including understanding the course map and the order of jumps. Additionally, familiarize yourself with competition etiquette, such as following the correct order and showing respect to other riders. Mastering these basics will help you feel confident and prepared when entering the showjumping arena.

How can I prepare myself for my first jumping course?

Before tackling your first jumping course, ensure that you have a solid foundation in flatwork and a secure position. Practice riding over small jumps to build your confidence. Visualize and plan your approach to each jump, focusing on maintaining a steady rhythm. Lastly, seek guidance from a knowledgeable coach who can provide valuable insight and support throughout your showjumping journey.

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